Pieces of Beauty: Non-traditional callings.

By this time, if you read my blog regularly, you are probably thinking, “Enough already.  I get it.  Help humanity.  Pursue my calling.”  And we normally start in the usual places.  We volunteer at the food pantry, or do a fundraiser for the homeless.  Maybe we finally sponsor the World Vision child (which is awesome by the way).  But what if something you’re already doing is your calling?  Maybe you’re doing your calling already.  Maybe answering your calling has more to do with how you do something, as much as what that something might be.

Can hobbies be a calling?  They can certainly be the opposite.  Our hobbies can definitely be a major distraction.  Hobbies can suck up our time and resources that could otherwise be spent elsewhere.  But can our hobbies be redeemed?  Can our calling actually be something we already love doing?  Is it necessary for our calling to drag us into something we would really rather not do?  Of course.  If God has put something on your heart and it gives you joy, then I would say it is not only possible to do it in a way that brings glory to God, but that He absolutely expects it.

I have the rather amazing pleasure of knowing one of the best quilters in the country.  She would deny that claim, of course.  But check out her work here.  It’s stunning.  Actually the word “stunning” is an understatement.  It is perfectly clear that quilting has gone way beyond a hobby for her.  It’s a passion.  Look carefully at that link.  Read through the blog.  And what you see is a life filled with a passion for God and a desire to connect with others, to bring beauty into the lives of others.  Is it possible to be an evangelistic quilter?  Absolutely.  And Mrs. Goodneedle is proof.

I actually have a quilt from Mrs. Goodneedle.  Well technically my daughter does.  It’s a learning quilt, meaning that it is pieced together images that kids can point to and learn about.  Overall, it’s a great excuse for a parent and child to sit and talk.  The quilt is funny in a certain way.  We’ve poured over its images countless times.  No matter how many times we do, it seems like we always find one we’ve never seen before (it’s a big quilt…).  So these seemingly random pieces of fabric, stitched together with amazing skill, become something that brings a father and daughter together.  A quilt delivers more than the requisite warmth we need to sleep at night.  It delivers a very clear message: “I love you and you are worth the time I took to make this.”  That’s a powerful statement.  One that has stayed with me, and especially my daughter, from the very beginning of her life.  Thank you Mrs. Goodneedle.

This blog post is not my attempt to get you to start quilting.  I have other friends who are tough-guy motorcycle enthusiasts who have taken that and have seen the calling within it.  They have taken something the first seemed like a fun way to spend some spare time and realized that they can still enjoy it while using it to complete God’s mission in their lives.  For me, this hobby was writing.  At first, my writing was dedicated to political ranting on Facebook.  I  did a lot of it.  And I was good at it.  Since the apparent goal was to get people to react emotionally, I elicited that on a regular basis.  I alienated family.  And I was lucky that I did not end more friendships or even family ties.

Stop putting off your calling because you are convinced that it will involve something that drains your time and energy.  I think everyone should spend some time working with the homeless, feeding the hungry, and ending child slavery.  Those are things we all need to care about and open our hearts to.  But perhaps God has put this passion for your hobby on your heart as a means to accomplish that, as opposed to a distraction that keeps you from it.

Can I guarantee that your hobby is really your life calling in disguise?  Of course not.  Maybe God will call you to dive deeper into it, or maybe God will call you to walk away from it.  But the fact is that engaging in your hobby qualifies as moving forward.  And we’ve already realized that God can steer us once we’re moving.  But let’s not put the cart before the horse.  Don’t refuse to move because you’re not sure where God will steer you once you do.  Start moving and trust that God wants what is best for you, and that He knows what “best” really means in your life.

We were built to be heroes.

It’s about time we started acting like heroes.


12 thoughts on “Pieces of Beauty: Non-traditional callings.

  1. mammapropria says:

    Words have been my best friends for more than six and a half decades now, my greatest delight, my favorite toys and my most useful tools. It has taken me most of my life, and the prodding of my writer son, to finally catch on that I was endowed with the gift of words and blessed with an excellent education in the English language because it is my mission to tell my story.

    If God can take a person as shattered and damaged as I have been for so much of my life and use me to show others what his love can do for his hurt and harmed children, then he can can do that and more for anyone who will let him. Let him. It’s important.


  2. Mensching Linda says:

    Thank you Jim, I am a friend of your Mom’s. We went on Tres Dias together. I took my hobby of making jewelry to the Rockford Rescue Mission Women’s program. We took old jewelry from the thrift shop and made new pieces of jewelry. The women could relate to this because they took something broken and discarded (like they felt) and turned it into something beautiful (which they were working on each day to renew themselves). The look of joy on their faces when others compliment them on what they made was priceless. So yes, your hobby can be your mission field. It has led me to be a spiritual mentor to the women as they try to put their lives back together. It has been a blessing in my life also.
    God bless you for making us think. I love your blog. Linda Mensching


  3. This is my story, this is my song! After thirty years of employment that left me with very little time for family and even less for Him, I was convicted so strongly to pursue a passion of mine that I knew it was of God. And as He would have it, that passion has turned into a ministry. Obedience equals blessings and while I have never been so financially “tight”, I am no longer spiritually bankrupt.


    • It’s funny. A few years ago my wife quit her job to raise the kids. Talk about tight finances. It was the best experience. We learned to appreciate what we had. To see the gift in things we normally didn’t think twice about.


  4. “Don’t refuse to move because you’re not sure where God will steer you once you do.” This is profound, on many levels. You inspire me and you need to know that for that I am very grateful; I am aware that God is working through me and my prayer is that he will continue every day of my life… what a ride! Life is Good!


  5. Shoes Summerfield says:

    Yes, another resounding “YES!” I do believe that our ‘callings’ are something that are instilled in us and that we have a certain love or passion for. I realized one of mine (do you think God can give you more than one ‘calling’?) a few years ago when asked to make a major career change and therefore discovering there was such a love and passion for something I was previously petrified to do, (speaking in public) that I would have done it for no pay at all. It drove me, it made me thrive! Regrettably I am not currently doing that passion/calling, but am working every day towards either that or another calling that HE may have for me to which I am currently unaware…


    • Can we have more than one calling? I would say certainly we can have more than one calling, but that if you’re feeling multiple callings to treat that feeling with suspicion. If you feel called to do three different things, but they all move you in one direction, then it makes sense. I write this blog, I’m writing a book, and I do public speaking to kids groups. But the overall calling is awakening something inside Christians that they may have forgetten in there. Food for thought. And I’m anxious to see your speaking take off again. Please keep us posted!


      • Shoes Summerfield says:

        Thank you Jim, I’ll definitely keep you posted. Yes, I agree that to double-check where any calling would lead is wise advice all around!


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